“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalms 34:18
It’s safe to say that the news, in the past couple of weeks, has been gut wrenching. We’re experiencing a range of emotions and thoughts. We may be asking questions like, “God where are you?” We are seeing the results of old sins unresolved and new ones committed as hurt people hurt people. There are natural causes and there are spiritual causes.
People are grieving here in Baltimore. They may be grieving the loss of Freddie Gray, Lor Scoota, Mackenzie Elliott, or Molly Macauley. Families are grieving the loss of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Families are grieving in Nice, Dallas, in Orlando, in Turkey, in Bangladesh, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia.
It is healthy to grieve. It is healthy to say, “This should not be!” God grieves and is angered by murder and injustice. Yet we must remember that today God is not at a loss for words or answers. God has not lost control of our world. God sent Jesus as the answer for the world today.
I believe that it is important for us to not sweep our feelings “under the rug”, nor trivialize how people around us are feeling.
J. I. Packer writes, “when bad things happen to good people…they lament with great freedom and at considerable length to their God. And Scripture does not seem to regard these prayers as anything other than wisdom.” He goes on to note that the plaintive question to God, “How long?” is asked almost twenty times in prayers of the Psalms, and is almost a technical sign of this kind of prayer. Psalms 39 and 88 can reasonably be called pitch-darkness prayers. Some believe that Jesus recited Psalm 88 the night before he was put to death. Jesus understands our pain and discouragement.
On the cross, Jesus prayed a prayer that many believe God did not answer. Even in the face of that evil, when it looked like our enemy had won, there was hope. Even when the friends and family of Jesus stood near the cross and it seemed that Father God had not answered that cry, there was hope. Father God knew that this suffering was necessary so that you and I could be forgiven, so that we can have access to God every day. Father God knew best.
And so, let us ask some specific questions: Where does God have me? What does God want me to do? What is it that I can do today that I cannot do in Heaven?
God has placed around you people who need to see hope in the face of evil. You can ask them questions, listen, speak love, and pray for a miracle of grace & peace. You can do it. Please remember that you are an eternal spiritual being having a temporary natural experience.
God has given you the right to ask Him to set the wrongs, right.
So find someone today, ask them, “Is there anything that I can pray with you about?”
Then simply ask God for miracles. Please be specific. Ask God to do something big.
As you consider this, here’s a suggestion of a prayer that you can pray:
“Lord please help me to be more aware of the people you have put in my life. Please help me faithfully love them, help them, and be a faithful display of your love for them. Thank you for this opportunity today. Thank you God! Thank you for putting this person in my life. God, please help this person with ___ . Please help me see what I should do.”
I believe that our Father God is alive, aware, able, and active. Let’s relate to Him like this is true.
If you have a little time, I thought that you may be lifted up by seeing a part of last Sunday’s service at City Bible Church in Portland. Pastor Marc Estes (who will be the lead pastor starting this October) reads the letter from the elders (included below) delivers the message and closes the service in a way that I believe will be good for you to see. If you start the video at the 36 minute 15 second mark you will see what I mean.
If you were unable to worship with us last Sunday, please see the Scriptures listed below and listen to our prayer and message time at iTunes or: http://cbcbaltimore.com/category/podcast/
You will also hear me describe the name change of our church.
Rebecca and I love you all so very much. We’re praying for you daily. We are available to you. Please feel free to let us know if you would like to talk through what you’re feeling or ask questions. May God continue to bless you this weekend! May God bring His grace and peace to our city!
Ben Malmin, Pastor
City Harbor Church …a safe place to find & follow Jesus
- “Nothing will separate me from the love of Jesus. In all these things I am more than a conqueror through Him who loved me.” Romans 8:35, 37
- “I will be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” Ephesians 6:10
- “ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
- “God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
- “Don’t worry about anything: instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He’s done.” Philippians 4:6
- “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” 1 Timothy 2:1
- “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” Colossians 4:2
- Letter from City Bible Church Portland Elders
July 8, 2016
Dear City Bible Church Family,
There’s no doubt that the world, and specifically our nation, is in a very volatile and tumultuous time. Violence, terrorism, injustice and a variety of other forms of evil permeate the fabric of our time. This week reports rippled across the nation of the fatal shooting of two black men, one in Minnesota and the other in Louisiana. Then just hours later, 12 officers from the Dallas Police Department were shot, 5 of which were fatal. It seems as though the darkness of our culture is growing dimmer and with that comes a pervasive fear among many.
As elders and leaders of Christ’s church, we are deeply grieved and concerned about the moral and spiritual condition of our nation. Our hearts are broken knowing that the black community and those of other ethnic minority have been treated wrongly throughout the course of history and suffer the horrific effects of racial injustice. We are disturbed that some actually believe that evil perpetuated by hatred could ever produce anything good. Murdering another human because of the uniform they wear or the continuation of any form of racial injustice is evil at the core and in direct violation of God’s commandments.
God is not the originator of evil – evil and injustice arise from a heart not submitted to God. Romans 12:19 refers to those who do not acknowledge God saying, “They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness…” A lack of care, love, concern, and honor for one human being by another human being, no matter their color of skin or the uniform they wear, is never right in God’s eyes. It is the evil fruit of a people who do not know or serve God with their whole heart.
Some of our nation’s great leaders have said that a choice must be made between love and hate:
“In these days of difficulty, we Americans everywhere must and shall choose the path of social justice… the path of faith, the path of hope, and the path of love toward our fellow man.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too much of a burden to bear.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Truly, love is a superpower; it moves towards the broken and the hurting, it crosses racial divides, respects others even when there are disagreements, seeks to understand before being understood, and cares for those who can’t care for themselves. Love covers transgressions, turns the other cheek, and love caused the Son of God to leave the splendor of heaven and set up camp in our neighborhood by taking on human flesh (John 1:14). When someone acts unjustly towards another human it shows that they have not chosen love, for 1 John 4:20 says “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
As the executive leadership team of City Bible Church we not only feel stirred because of the injustice that’s recently taken place, we also feel compelled to speak out and to act in accordance with godly love. We are committed to be bridge builders and to make a difference in our sphere of influence. It’s in uncertain times that the church must lead with clarity and focus. We must channel our grief and any feeling of uncertainty into biblical action and be light in the midst of very dark of times.
As we move forward we’d ask that you join us and stand as a unified church family with one voice. Let’s partner together as bridge builders – as those who seek to reflect God’s heart of love for humanity, and as those who speak against evil and stand for righteousness.
- Let’s not reduce ourselves to the idea that what our nation is facing is only a racial war or a battle against those in uniform – it’s a spiritual battle of good versus evil.
- Let’s recognize that man’s systems will always fail us because the human heart is evil. Evil is redeemed when the unmerited love of God is injected into it. Therefore we need the God of Love to heal our land – and He has promised to do so if we would humble ourselves, pray and turn from our wicked ways.
- Let’s turn our grief into passionate and persistent prayer for our city, state, nation, for racial issues, for law enforcement, and that God would use us to make a difference in our sphere of influence.
- Let’s not assume that we understand what those who’ve suffered injustice think or feel unless we ask them and have open and honest dialogue.
- Let’s use social media to communicate hope, healing, and love. Please be sensitive that the use of certain hashtags may cause more harm than good.
- Let’s speak out for justice, not against a political party, or a certain individual or a group of people.
- Let’s be fueled by love and not allow hatred to enter our hearts.
WE are HIS church. We are unstoppable and unshakeable. We have an abundantly available source of love, patience, kindness, mercy, joy, faithfulness and goodness to offer in dark times. We are light in the midst of darkness. We will be the church without spot or wrinkle, unmarred and on full display. We will not be exclusive or divisive. We will respond with faith, hope, love, prayer, conversation, peace and action. There’s healing in Jesus. There’s hope in His church. And there’s power-filled help from His Spirit in this time of need.
Today we’re choosing to believe that amidst these waves of unrest something great will unfold. We have hope that the church can help lead the way.
With all our love,
City Bible Church Portland Elders